Lisa Ann Kawachi
Mayor Masamitsu Aikawa and the Tsuruta group pays respects at the grave of Sister City co-founder Eiko Tadakuma’s gravesite at Pine Grove Cemetery. Eiko hosted many students from Japan early on in the program and was a mother figure to the Japanese students while they were in Hood River. She also served on the board for many years.
Monday morning, Hood River’s Sister City guests from Tsuruta, Japan, said their goodbyes to their host families and members of the Hood River-Tsuruta Sister City Board at HRVHS.
The 15 students, accompanied by Tsuruta Town Office Representative Kazuma Narita, English Teacher Kei Hanada and Tour Coordinator Naoki
Kumatani, spent the last week in Hood River for the annual Tsuruta Junior High School visit.
Each year Tsuruta sends two groups of students to Hood River, high school students in the fall and junior high school students in the spring. Tsuruta Mayor Masamitsu Aikawa also made the trip with the group this year, but returned to Japan last Thursday. This visit was Aikawa’s third time visiting Hood River, but his first official visit as mayor.
The group was busy early on visiting the fire station, touring local schools, attending classes, shopping, bowling, roller skating and playing dodgeball with their host students. They finished up their week-long visit taking in the view of Mt. Hood at Panorama Point, paying their respects at local cemeteries, touring Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery, going on a hike and having a free weekend to spend with their host families.
If you would like to learn more about the program, and support it financially, attend the annual Taste of Tsuruta dinner and auction, April 11 at the Mt. Hood Winery. Tickets are $25 per person or two tickets for $40 and can be purchased at Hood River Valley High School. Guests will enjoy Asian cuisine and have the opportunity to bid on items in a silent and live auction. Proceeds go towards the Sister City Program. To purchase tickets, donate items for the auction or be a sponsor, contact Niko Yasui at firstname.lastname@example.org.